2003. Carmelo Anthony. You get a jersey retired for being the key cog in a basketball school's lone National Championship and automatically, the glory years of the program revolve around that group.
There have been other good stretches in the program's history (sad to say I wasn't alive/a fan then) and that's why Syracuse is a "basketball school" even with a football program that has had some nice ups. (We're still a Lacrosse school, but ESPN doesn't know how to spell it outside ESPNU so it doesn't count.)
But if you didn't click the link, an average of a two seed over four seasons (3, 1, 3, 1) with 137-26 overall record and 67-17 record inside the most competitive conference in the country grabs your attention. As it should.
But as I mentioned earlier, my kids will only learn about this era when they read Sean's second book before they attend Syracuse. They will read about a stretch of dominance and lottery sixth men, academic violations, record breaking coaching victories, lack of true road games and decent tournament runs.
I'll fill in the details about OT wins over Georgetown, crazy finishes against Louisville and the final season of the "Real Big East." But ESPN and everyone not heavily indoctrinated in Orange will simply see Boeheim's and the program's overall win totals. They won't see an era of dominance unless some bling in a ring punches them in the face.
We've had this debate about a billion times before. Yeah, the tournament poses all kinds of randomness. Yeah, 2010 could have been that year again if Arinze Onuaku is in the middle. Yeah, 2012 should have been a Final Four if Fab Melo can go toe to toe with Jared Sullinger.
Jim Boeheim has reached the point where his 2-3 zone is not imitated because only he has turned it into a fine art. Even without dominant big men, Syracuse is consistently one of the top defenses in the country, many would say number one this year. James Arthur is recruiting some of the best pure talent he has ever had. Boeheim's not slowing down any time soon and thus even in a difficult ACC, I don't see this era of dominance coming to an end.
But you never know. That's why this year is so interesting and important.
Sure, Syracuse could have very easily lost to Providence, South Florida, Louisville and Cincy. But they didn't. There's no way you forgot the last two games. Syracuse is far too talented to be a five loss team. I'm not a big believer in "it" in sports, but the Orange have SOMETHING that turns Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. Fair and Brandon Triche on when the team needs them on most.
I'm going to say it's talent. There's a handful of teams out there with the talent I'm talking about here. In a vacum, you'd have no problems taking Cuse over all of them. This year may just be as good as any for Syracuse to get hot and run the tourney with this kind of set up.
It would certainly help set up the transition into the ACC. More importantly, it would certainly help cement the dominance of this era.